Handy iOS accessibility options for everyone


Accessibility options in iOS and iPadOS are basically intended to make the digital life easier for anyone with a physical disability. Think of poor vision, poor hearing, difficulty moving and so on. But: some of it is also perfectly suitable for wider use!

Take that damn handy magnifying glass that’s waiting for you. If you work a lot with small things – think of those finicky electronic components with minuscule printing, for example – then a magnifying glass is not an unnecessary luxury. You can start the Magnifier tool by swiping from top to bottom on your screen (not all the way from the edge, because that’s when you see notifications). Then tap as a search term Magnifying glass and you can launch the app.

It becomes even more convenient if you first use the app Settings Start. Tap in it Accessibility and then on Activation Button. Choose the option from the list shown Magnifying glass. As a result, if you press the on/off button on your iPad or iPhone three times in succession, the Magnifying Glass will appear. Nice and quick and easy!

An additional advantage on your iPad in combination with Magnifying Glass is that the lens can be held much closer for sharp shots. Combined with the larger screen surface, this creates a handy tool.

Also have a look in the list of options under Activation button. You may be less interested in the Magnifying Glass yourself, but you can do something with one of the other options. If you activate an option, it can now be reached by pressing the on/off button three times.

It is also possible to select several functions, in which case a selection menu first appears after pressing the said button three times. Keep in mind that some features can only be turned on by pressing that three times, but to turn them off again you have to dive into the Accessibility section of the Settings app.

More keyboard functionality

The standard (virtual) keyboard of both iPad as iPhone has for most people in principle enough options on board. However – still in Settings under Accessibility – the option Keyboards to choose, on Extended keyboard functions tapping and then turning this option on via the appropriate switch, you will have access to some extras. Including a series of keyboard shortcuts like Tab-H for help and others.

The nice thing is that these shortcuts can be defined as desired under Commands. An option like this can be very practical in combination with a physical keyboard. Even a copy without specific keys for Apple devices can still be made quite usable. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a real keyboard tiger yourself.

Sound Recognition

A nice feature is the recognition of sounds that may pose a danger to you. Think of fire, breaking glass or smoke. For the hearing impaired (and anyone who sleeps through everything), it is also possible to recognize, for example, a doorbell, crying baby, barking dog and more.

If your iPhone or iPad recognizes such a sound, an alarm of your choice will be played. Hopefully with the result that you will wake up of course. You can activate it in Settings under Accessibility on Sound Recognition to tap. Then turn on the switch behind the option of the same name. Tap on Sounds and indicate per sound whether you want your device to be triggered by it and in that case choose an appropriate alarm.

If you never use this option and if you do not intend to use it, you can also turn it off. For the more privacy-sensitive among us, that may save some peace of mind.

voice control

Still in Accessibility you will also find the option voice control. This option comes in handy, for example, if you need or want to work hands-free with your iPhone or iPad. To enable it, first tap the mentioned item in Settings and then Configure voice control.

Then think carefully about whether you have a device with sufficient (free) storage space, because this feature requires downloading and storing 350 MB of data. Another catch is that voice control is not yet available in Dutch, but it is (among other things) in English. Of course you always run the risk that your Dutch coal English is not understood well, so it is a matter of trying.

However, if it works for you, you can also add (or adjust) voice commands yourself via the option Customize commands. For some people, however, this function will only become really useful if Dutch speech recognition is added. Nevertheless, it seems to us a solution for, for example, while driving. Hands-free then becomes truly hands-free. Although there is a risk of even more distraction…

Mouse Settings

If you have a mouse, you have probably already discovered that you can’t set anything exciting about it under the ‘normal’ settings. So you’re stuck with a somewhat faint gray ball as a mouse cursor. And that thing is – depending on background and environment – ​​not always clearly visible. In Settings under Accessibility, by pressing Pointer Control tapping, however, does give you several interesting setting options.

For example, the contrast of the pointer ball can be increased, which provides just a little more clarity. It becomes even clearer if you choose a color under Colour. The color of the cursor itself will not change, but a bright colored ring will appear around it. Unfortunately, the shape cannot be changed into a more standard arrow. You can, however, go back a level with the slider below Pointer Size.

The nice thing is, that halfway through there is a dot in the middle of the cursor. Unfortunately, we are already talking about a large ‘stain’ that will usually be considered (much) too large for daily use. But such a dot in the middle is very handy for precise selection work. Too bad Apple doesn’t have such a dot in the middle by default. Well, here you can turn it on every now and then, for extra accurate drawing.

Finally, if we stay with alternative pointers: if you have an Apple TV, you can also use its remote to move the cursor. Can be useful for presentations, for example. To do that, under Accessibility, tap Apple TV Remote and put the switch behind Directional buttons at.

Be sure to browse through the many Accessibility options. Perhaps there is something in between that is definitely a solution for you!

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